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21 Humans Who Make Being Human Look Really, Really Hard

Tag: Wanderlei Silva

Chris Leben: The CagePotato Retrospective Interview

Chris Leben UFC interview
(“I want people to look at me and say, ‘Wow, this is where he started and look where he ended up.’” Photo props: MMA Weekly)

By Ben Goldstein

Over the last six years, we’ve watched Chris Leben evolve from The Ultimate Fighter‘s original wild-ass brawler, to a multi-faceted contender who has the tools to defeat virtually any middleweight opponent on any given night. In fact, two of Leben’s last three fights have resulted in the greatest victories of his entire career — his epic UFC 116 Fight of the Night against Yoshihiro Akiyama, and his stunning 27-second knockout of Wanderlei Silva at UFC 132.

On November 5th, Leben will headline UFC 138 in Birmingham, England, against Mark Munoz, in a meeting that could put one of them on the short-list for a title shot. We spent some time on the phone with the Crippler last week and discussed all the notable battles in his life that have led him to where he is today, facing yet another massive opportunity. Enjoy, and check out our previous Retrospective Interviews right here.

THE ORIGIN STORY

(Matt Lindland, overdressed as usual.)

CHRIS LEBEN: “I think I was in the fourth grade when I got into my first fight. I can’t remember what it was over — something on the playground. But that was my first real, non-wrestling match, hitting-each-other-in-the-face kind of fight. And all the other kids just stood around and watched. I didn’t get into fights a lot, but I definitely had some good ones, like all kids that are a little more on the wild side.

I did a little wrestling in grade school, and something called Christian Karate that I did in like third grade. Then I started boxing in eighth grade and I actually took that really seriously.

Even when I was in junior high, my plan was always to fight in the UFC. I joined Team Quest right after I turned 21. You have to remember that at 185 pounds, I was training with Matt Lindland, Evan Tanner, Chael Sonnen, Ed Herman — we were all in the same room, every day. And every day I walked into the gym, my first coach Robert Follis would say, ‘Good morning Chris, how are you doing?’ And I’d say, ‘Did you get me a fight yet? Did you get me a fight yet?’ I’d never say, ‘Good morning, how are you,’ it was always ‘Did you get me a fight yet?’ I believe it was about six months until I had my first amateur fight.”

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Old School Fight of the Day: Wanderlei Silva and Mike Van Arsdale’s Vale Tudo Match

(Skip to 3:10 for the start of the fight) 

Since stepping in for the injury-prone Vitor Belfort against Cung Le, many of us have been wondering if this could be the last we will see of “The Axe Murderer,” and what a sad sight it would be to see him go. Well aware of the position he is in, Silva is training harder than ever, and in light of that, we figured we could showcase some of the brutal tenacity/soccer kicks that spawned our affection for ol’ Wandy in the first place.

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Watch the UFC 139 ‘Shogun vs. Henderson’ Press Conference Right Here at 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT


(Props: YouTube.com/UFC)

UFC 139 goes down November 19th at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, and the major players are convening at the San Pedro Square Market right now for a little press-conference action. Click “play” on the live YouTube player above to see Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva, Cung Le, and UFC president Dana White field questions from the media in attendance beginning at 1 p.m. local time.

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Video: Wanderlei Silva is Out to Prove He Can Still Compete Against Cung Le


(Video courtesy of YouTube/UFC)

The UFC uploaded an interview with Wanderlei Silva today in which the former PRIDE middleweight champion discussed his upcoming UFC 139 bout with former Strikeforce middleweight champ Cung Le.

The consummate crowd favorite says that he actually took some time to decide whether or not he’d have enough time to prepare for the short notice bout as a fill in for Le’s original opponent, Vitor Belfort, who bowed out of the event due to injury.

“I was just chilling. I was at home with my son. These days I’ve been teaching classes at my gym. I got a text asking if I wanted to fight at UFC 139. I was in shock. But a good shock. I was planning on fighting again, but I didn’t think it would be so fast. I was preparing to go back in February. I wasn’t sure right away,” he reveals. “I was thinking if I needed more than eight weeks, but I was already conditioned from [my fight with Chris Leben in July]. I took a break from training, since I had no fight scheduled, but now I’m already training good and hard. I was very happy. It was a great surprise.”

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Vitor Belfort Injured, Wanderlei Silva to Replace Against Cung Le in UFC 139 Co-Headliner


(As it turns out, Belfort-brand bottled water mostly consists of hydrochloric acid. Good to know. Photo via LasVegasSun)

Due to an undisclosed injury, UFC middleweight Vitor Belfort will not be showing off his “powerful trunks” against Cung Le at UFC 139 (November 19th, San Jose). Dana White broke the news via Twitter, adding that Le’s new opponent will be another Brazilian legend — none other than Wanderlei Silva.

Silva vs. Le will serve as the co-main event of UFC 139, which will be headlined by the PRIDE-era fantasy match between Dan Henderson and Mauricio Rua. Silva is coming off his 27-second knockout loss to Chris Leben at UFC 132, while Le will be making his Octagan debut 17 months after his rematch victory over Scott Smith.

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Koscheck Asked For Silva, Franklin or Leben for Return Bout, Got Hughes Instead


(…and THAT’S what the Kos has cookin’.”

When Josh Koscheck mentioned back in July that he was interested in taking at least one fight at 185, speculation ran rampant about who the American Kickboxing Academy fighter wanted to face. We reported that there were early discussions with the UFC and Chris Leben’s camp for the two The Ultimate Fighter nemeses to square off at UFC 138 in San Jose, but the fight never materialized for various reasons and now Koscheck is slated to face former UFC welterweight champ Matt Hughes at UFC 135 on September 24 as a last-minute replacement for Diego Sanchez.

According to Kos, he asked for either Leben, Rich Franklin or Wanderlei Silva for his first bout back since losing to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 124. A broken orbital bone he suffered in the opening minutes of the bout required surgery and left him sidelined for the better part of the past year. The reason for the jump back up to middleweight — the class he competed in on The Ultimate Fighter — he says was because anyone of relevance in his own weight class was already tied up.

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Video: Wanderlei Says He’s Not Done Yet


(Video courtesy of YouTube/GroundandPoundTV1)

Wanderlei Silva was in Germany recently where he conducted a seminar in Frankfurt and was interviewed by GroundandPoundTV. The former PRIDE star says that in spite of a growing opinion that he should probably walk away from the sport following his most recent knockout loss to Chris Leben at UFC 132 in July, he ain’t goin’ out like that as he owes it to his fans to retire out with his head held hight, not held by the referee as he comes to.

“I rushed. I [was] so excited  to be back to fighting and in the co-main event that I did something wrong at the start of the fight. But it happens. I need to come back to training. I hear a lot of guys talking, ‘I gonna retire…gonna retire.’ I can’t retire. Not after that fight. Maybe if I won I could retire, but I can’t retire now. I’m gonna go back to fight for sure and I hope I give a good show for my fans. I’m gonna talk to [Dana White], but he’s so busy right now. We’re gonna talk soon, but for sure, it’s not the last [fight]. After my career, I can’t have one last fight in my career like that. I want to make one fight. I want to announce when I’m gonna retire and I wanna make one big party for my fans. I have a lot of fans that have been been following me for more than ten years. I look at them and they’re like men who some are 25 years old and they say, ‘Man, I’ve saw you since I was a little kid.’ It’s for that kind of guy that I fight.”

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The Change-Up: Five Fighters We Wish Could Switch Bodies


(Unlike the rest of us, the eye candy in the back decided to open her eyes for Cyborg.)

By Jason Moles

While suffering through The Change-Up this weekend, I started thinking about the hypothetical situation of MMA fighters switching bodies. Obviously, one fighter would get the short end of the stick, like in all relationships, but other than that, it’s all good news from there. Imagine the man with a warrior spirit and broken body upgrading for a newer model. Imagine the heavy-duty gas-guzzler being replaced by a tiny, eco-friendly, electric car. Imagine experience and youth joining forces to reign terror on anything that steps in its way. So who most deserves a cinematic body-swap? Read on and find out…

BJ Penn and Brock Lesnar
BJ Penn Brock Lesnar UFC MMA photos

Advantage: Baby Jay

For years, Penn has been criticized for his lack of self-discipline and willingness to stay in shape. Switching bodies would solve that problem and create what might be the best heavyweight in UFC history. A Nova Uniao Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with explosive striking and a granite chin, Penn has everything that Lesnar wishes he had. The Prodigy would be a wrecking ball at heavyweight if he had Brock’s body — as long as the viking took the diverticulitis thing with him. If he had to keep the illness during the switch, then I guess we could all agree that we’d like to see Josh Koscheck trade bodies with Brock.

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MMA Video Tribute: Six Amazingly Rare Occurrences

If you watch MMA long enough, every fight, knockout, and submission begins to look familiar — which makes these classic bouts that much more special.

Wanderlei Silva Wins Via Choke
vs. Bob Schrijber @ Pride Grand Prix 2000 Opening Round, 1/30/00

Though he has two other submission victories on his record due to strikes, Wanderlei Silva has only ended one fight in his 15-year career with a legit, bonafide submission hold. It went down during his third PRIDE appearance against renowned kickboxer Bob Schrijber, in a reserve bout for the 2000 PRIDE GP. After some standup brawling, Wandy secures a takedown, immediately lands in mount, and slugs “Dirty Bob” until the Dutchman is forced to roll. From there, Silva sets up a rear-naked choke — you can tell that grappling’s not really his strong-suit — and eventually gets the tap.

Tito Ortiz Fights Outside of the UFC
vs. Jeremy Screeton @ West Coast NHB Championships 1, 12/8/98

After going 1-1 in his Octagon debut at UFC 13, Tito Ortiz took a tune-up fight at an NHB tournament in Los Angeles. The result was a fast, gnarly, PRIDE-style victory for the future superstar. Screeton shoots in on Ortiz, but the Huntington Beach Bad Boy uses his own formidable wrestling skills to reverse his opponent onto the mat. Two brutal knees to the head later, and Screeton was tapping out the morse code to “get me the fuck out of here.” Ortiz was invited back to the UFC the following month, and has never left. Seriously, we can’t get rid of this guy.

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Retired UFC Vet Eugene Jackson Giving Back to Community by Turning Wannabe Gangstas Into Fighters

Growing up in the gang-infested town of East Paulo Alto California, Eugene Jackson used his fists to settle any conflicts he had. He soon realized that his punching prowess could be used to earn him some cash in addition to the street cred he had behind his name in EPA, so in the 90s he began fighting in MMA where he would fight 25 times, under the UFC, Strikeforce, IVC and IFC banners against guys like Wanderlei Silva, Joe Doerksen, Jeremy Horn and Ricardo Almeida.

Having retired with a 15-9-1 record after losing to Joe Riggs in Strikeforce back in 2007, Jackson decided he wanted to give local kids a leg up that he never had so he opened up a a non-profit gym for at risk youth with his own money in 2009. The facility, which was little more than a warehouse with some mats, heavy bags and a crudely thrown together collection of weights became a hugely popular community center where teens who might normally be enticed into gang-banging would hang out every day to hone their fighting skills.

Eventually city authorities demanded improvements to the building that he could not afford and he was forced to close the gym, but that didn’t deter him.

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